Merlin Room at 2004 HE Show in NY

If anyone is going to the 2004 Home Entertainement Expo in NY this weekend (5/21~23), could you please report on how the Merlin room sounds with its new VSM-MX speakers? I understand they will be showing with Joule-Electra and JPS Labs cables.

I have the MXs on order and want to get some comparative feedback from the show goers since I can't attend. Comparisons with VSM-Ms, Kharmas, or any other top-class speakers (or room comparisons) would be appreciated. Thanks in advance.
I was just there for a little bit. Speaker looks about 40" tall with a 8" woofer. Same old, 3 metal stripes down in the front baffle. Sound was warm and pleasing as I remember. Never fatigue sounding. Nice room.
I heard them and thought they sounded great. Frankly I didn't realize it was a new merlin model. It seemed to have the merlin house sound, which to me means extremely detailed and accurate across the midband, yet smooth at the same time - at least driven by the Joules. I heard the Kharma, driven by Lamm, and it was nice, but for me, didn't have the life that the merlins had.
I heard both rooms. I enjoyed the clarity and power of the Merlins. The sweet spot was nice and wide too.

The Kharmas were truly transparent and disappeared, even when sitting quite close. The term 'tonal colour' comes to mind--the sound was truly rich and satisfying.

I suppose it's a bit unfair to compare the 2, since the systems in both Kharma rooms were quite a bit pricier than the Merlins room.
The Merlin room was much better than the Kharma 3.2 room.
I think the Kharma/Lamm/Walker room was superior. I could find no fault whatsoever with the sound. Of course, you are dealing with some serious money in that room. Everything is the best of the best, and it costs that way too. Lloyd's turntable is otherworldly, and even the Audio Aero Capitole in the Merlin room is nothing in terms of a match for it.

There was not perfect sound in the Merlin/Joule Electra room, but it was very, very good. There was a bit too much bass, which overpowered the room. Slipknot1 felt the room was overtreated, which I cannot disagree with. I felt the bass was plump and plummy. I wondered if the Merlins need a big room, despite their small size. I also wondered if removing the BAM from the equation might work better in that room, but I don't really have enough experience with the speaker to say for sure.

While the sound was superior to what many will ever achieve, I have heard the speakers sound a lot better than this. In fact, I have heard them sound so good, that I actually suspended belief in what I was hearing, and felt I was listening to live music. To be honest, I have never heard better sound, EVER.
Excellent report. I'm quite jealous, and wish I'd been able to join you three. Hopefully next year.
Any more to share about Lloyd Walker's plans on a more affordable tt? Any idea of his target price and timing?
Also, sounds like # of 2 channel demos are holding up well vs. multichannel, true? Was crowd interest in 2 channel holding up, too? Same question on tubes & vinyl?
Just out of curiousity, but how small was the Merlin Joule room? The room at Mark Paul's house where the Philly Audio Group demoed the Merlin/Berning/Joule system wasn't a large room, IMHO. Assuming that's where you loved the sound, was the NYC room much smaller?
Also, FWIW, I've been experimenting with my VSM-MXs w/battery BAM, and no doubt that it's much, much better with BAM(The new MX BAM does have improvements over the older BAM).
See you soon. Cheers,

Could you share with us the details of your experience with Merlins that you referred to as the "best ever" in your post? What were the associated electronics, cables, etc.? How was the room set up (demension, damping, etc.)? What kind of music were you listening to? Was it the VSM-MX model or the earlier VSM-Ms? Thanks in advance for sharing your insight.

I was at the show and thought both rooms were superb. The Kharma/Lamm room was excellent but as Trelja mentioned, some very pricey stuff there. The sound was incredibly lifelike, so much so that my gf doesn't want to leave, but...
The Merlins/Joule room was one of my favorites at the show. I'm currently using the Vsm-m and wanted to compare them to the new model. Within the constraints of the show room, the sound was great and overall a nice improvement over the old model.
I actually came back for a second demonstration, as the room was crowded the first time and there were others lining outside to get in. I stayed for about 15 minutes the second time (around closing time, but Bobby was going the distance) and listened hard as he played some cuts from a Joni Mitchell album. Vocals and instruments have a smooth and rich qualilty, with that certain sparkle and finese that seem to bring life to the music. Imagery was also well done, as Mitchell's voice was dead center with presence and other instruments clearly separated. You're in for a real treat once they're broken in, and especially when you've done your room treatment and take care of various vibration issues.
I have friends who heard the MX & swear it was the best speaker they ever heard. This was with the Berning gear. The vote for best sound at the show with most people was the Von Schwiekert VR4jr. I think I spelled it right. Unbelieveable sound. One of the truly great buys in speakers. We all felt it gave the Merlins true competition for the $ & should be considered seriously. The line out the door to listen to the VR4jr was long. Can't say much as give them a listen since we only listened under a controlled demo setup. The Merlins were just playing anything. I lovew that Dynaudio tweeter. Can't be beat easily IMO.
I went to the show for about 2 hours Friday just to hear the Merlin room and the Epiphany room. The sound in the Merlin room was outstanding (much better than Epiphany room). I have never heard any of the pervious Merlins before, and I was truely blown away by how great that 2 way speaker sounded for its size. I am not an audio critic / writer, so I'll spare you my attemp at describing the details. I will say the sound was 'alive', exciting, fun and easy to listen too. I wished I had brought my own discs to try. I liked them so much that I told the owner Bobby that I'd be putting my order in for a pair of VSM-VX within a week, and I meant it. I disagree with previous comments on the bass, which I though sounded right on the mark. Perhaps the setup changed throughout the show.

The Epiphany room was a huge dissapointment. There were 3 rows of 3 seats, and I had the center seat back row. All of the seats were full. After about 5 minutes of listening, I asked the guy behind me (an epiphany employee) why the sound was only comming from the left had side? He said he thought it was the recording (which made me wonder why they would select it). No one else was saying anything. After anther minute or so, I couldn't stand it any more so I got up and walked over to the right channel speaker and put my ear up next to it, and it wasn't playing!! This revelation sent the room into a flurry of activity trying to debug the problem. Later, when it was corrected, I asked if the large subwoofer was playing, and the answer was 'we think so, but its not set very loud'. OK guys. At that point I left. Presumably, they got their act together later on in the show, since I was one of the first people there on Friday morning.
Merlin's always seem to sound good at these shows. Not necessarily the best, but consistently good. That's your first indication that they will probably sound great in a home environment.

It was a good room, but it's not surprising because he knows what he is doing. Besides putting together an excellent speaker, he does a few other smart things:

1. The speakers are mated with electronics known to have ideal synergy. You'd be surprised how many rooms mate their components at the last minute without much prior experience.

2. The room size is more appropriate for the Merlin's versus other speakers. Two years ago, Callix squeezed their humongous $60M speaker (and the equally obtrusive Vyger turntable) in virtually the same room and it was disastrous, IMO.

3. Merlin setup only one line of listening chairs that were an appropriate distance away. Where you are sitting means alot. By eliminating second or even third row listeners, he avoids many people listening at an improper distance and the various issues of listening through other bodies and chairs.

4. They use room treatments effectively.

5. They had a corner room, which is notably more quiet and advantageous is almost every regard.

As a veteran on many shows, Merlin is almost always in my top 10. This show was no exception.
Excellent observations.
High aspirations, pragmatism, plenty of smarts, dedication, & what-the-heck: common sense. Not a bad recipe for long term success!
Cheers, Spencer
I would like to thank you all for your comments and for the support.
Rich and I had a great time talking to people and playing all kinds of music. More so than at any other show we were able to play anything that was thrown at the speakers with a relaxed and believable presentation. Dynamics were on the goofy side especially when a fellow asked to hear the soundtrack from Gladiator. Even I was blown away with the experience. After the initial breakin of Joe's new speaker cables the sound was as liquid as could be. He has quite a product there!! And the Joule products and the Capitole II performed with consistant honesty and grace. That's why they are in the room to begin with.
Talking to the showgoers was a real pleasure, I just hope they weren't too upset with the garbage in the halls the last day of the show. I was quite upset about this so this really needs to be dealt with next year.
Good to see you all and thanks again.
I apologize for not keeping an eye on this thread...

Spencer, hopefully you join us next year. I didn't get much insight on Lloyd's plan for a lower cost TT, but he let me know as I was leaving last month's "unofficial" meeting. As he is intending on attending as many of our functions as he is able, I am sure you will run into him sooner or later. Otherwise, why not shoot him an e - mail or phone call?

Henry_la, the system in which the Merlin sounded so good to me is owned by a gentleman named Mark, and I believe he lurks these parts. It is basically the same system Spencer has - Merlin speakers, Berning ZOTL power amplifier, Joule Electra preamp, with a Cary CD player(Spencer may have a different front end). The sound was more lifelike than I think I have ever been around, and more than I had come to believe possible in a hifi system. There was no hint of bloat or fatness, as I noticed in the Merlin room. The Merlin room was the same dimensions as most on the 6th floor it was on. I am guessing now, but I would say maybe 10' X 15'? Perhaps, someone can give a better estimate...
Hi Trelja,
The room was 13 by 18 feet.
Just wondering, did you ever have a seat and listen to a few piecces of music or were you standing near the back wall or in the passage way? The bass was loading in these areas.
There were only two pieces of music (during the entire show) that beat on the room resonant frequency to any degree. I hope that you were not in the room when these were being played.
Thanks for the kind words and please, introduce yourself next time.
Thanks for your response, Bobby. Actually, I did introduce myself to you. We attended on Friday. I mentioned to you that we were involved in a thread on Audio Asylum a couple of months ago, regarding the "coldness" of Merlins, which I found to be way off base.

I stayed in the rear half of the room, and the sound was a bit ripe for my tastes. Your explanation seems valid.

Once again, the sound I heard in February was the finest sound I have ever encountered from a loudspeaker. It transcended what I had come to think was possible from a stereo system. You deserve a lot of credit for turning me into a Merlin lover, and wanting to someday own a pair. As many know here, I am not so quick when it comes to praise for a lot of audio equipment.
Hi Trelja,
I do remember you!
Standing in the back of the room would explain why you heard the system sound ripe. When seated, the speakers played in a very balanced manner, at least, IMHO.
Your comments are very kind so please stay in touch so that I may keep you abreast of product developments.
if you guys think the merlin room sounded good at the show,wait till you set them up at home, I heard a pair of Mx's with the Berning 270 at a friends house ,i think it blew away anything at the show..cant wait to upgrade my M to Mx.
Bobby you are the best..
Hi Diamonddude18,
When you are ready just give me a call or e-mail and I take care of you personally.
Thanks for the kind words.
Bobby, I hope I don't offend you, but I think my entry point into Merlin will be first through a used pair. I just want to be honest, as I feel it's the best policy. I am thinking that will happen within the next year.

Afterwards, either through upgrade or a new pair, I would love to move towards a more "acceptable" relationship with Merlin.

Thanks again,
Hi Joe,
I don't care whether you get a new or used pair, you'll still have my product and I will be just as happy to have you as one of the Merlin family. You will find out that I am true to my product first and the owner second This means that anyone who owns a Merlin product is treated the same way...period.
Have a great weekend.
What speaker cables did you use this time around?
howard from Sacramento.
After a couple of Guinesses at my house, he'll pony up for a new pair!
Cheers, Spencer
Thanks Spencer, do your best!
Howard, I used the JPS Aluminata prototypes which sounded as good as any wire I have ever used. Distortion free, relaxed, highly resolved and tonally very accurate. Call Joe and ask him about them. Any reservations I had about JPS with tubes is gone!!!
O.K., for the first time in 6 years, I'm considering getting new speakers. The Merlins have always looked good and gotten good reviews from everyone, I now have to check them out. Anyone know if they (the floor standers or stand mounted ones) can be driven well by an AirTight 300B 8wt amp in an 11 x 13.5 x 8 hgt room? What's the efficiency, impedance, and phase angle difficulty of the VSM-M?

By the way, my ProAc 2.5s work great with this amp as it has those great Tamura trannies.
Hi Tom,
The Merlin will be 5 dB more efficient and offer a more uniform impedance curve with a low of 6.5 ohms while running at 8 to 9 ohms thoughout. The VSM MM would be a much better choice for you (than the VSM M) because they are more room filling and seem more sensitive. They will also sound more even and quite a bit more lifelike in the end. They also will be easier to match with ancillary gear. You will also find the amplitude more uniform and because of that the phase line will be more linear than the 2.5. IMHO, the 2.5 is a great speaker but not really competition for the VSM. The two use very different parts, technology and one costs considerably more than the other because of this.
Trelja.. i heard the same boomy bass when i was standing in the hall/entrance, but when i came in & sat down the sound was perfect. you heard the room not the speakers. ;-)
Yikes! I just talked to Joe at JPS about the new cables. They will be available in the fall. $2-3k(IC's) and $5-7k speaker.
Yes they are pricey but they are incredibly good, very relaxed and complete sounding with remarkable resolution.